Safety Spooktacular! Red Cross Tips for a Safe and Happy Halloween

Halloween can be both fun and frightening.  With Halloween just a couple of weeks away the American Red Cross would like to remind you of a couple of tips and tricks to keep you safe while you trick or treat.

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For Children:

  • Never go into a strangers house, even if you are invited in you should stay on the doorstep in plain sight of bystanders. Not everyone is nice to children on Halloween and someone you don’t know might trick you.
  • Be careful crossing the street. Make sure to look both ways for vehicles before crossing.
  • Wear a bright costume or consider wearing reflective stickers on your costume to help make you visible to drivers while trick or treating.
  • Have an adult you know accompany you on your trick or treating, if this isn’t possible plan a route and make sure somebody knows where you plan to and when you should be back.
  • Watch out for jack-o-lanterns, as awesome as they are they often have a candle inside making them a fire hazard. To reduce the chance of becoming like the inside of a jack-o-lantern wear a tight fitting costume or one that is flame retardant.
  • Only visit houses with a bright porch light, dark porches can have hiding ghouls or the homeowners might not be home.
  • Only walk on sidewalks, don’t walk in the street unless to cross and don’t cut across peoples lawns.
  • If your costume has a prop like a knife, pitchfork, or a sword, make sure it has a soft flexible tip so it can’t cause any harm.
  • Don’t use masks with small eye-holes, they can limit your vision making them unsafe. Instead try to use face paint as an alternative.

For Adults:

  • Have your kids bring their candy back for you to check before they eat it, this is important; you don’t want them eating something harmful. Plus you get to take first pick of their loot!
  • Accompany your kids while trick or treating. If you can’t go see if they can go with their friends parents.  If all else fails, plan a route with them and make sure you know when they will get back.
  • Kids are foolish sometimes. Make sure they know the difference between a trick and vandalism; it’s not cool to egg someone’s house.
  • Serve your kids a filling meal before they go out trick or treating, this will help them from overeating candy and becoming sick.
  • Warn your kids to be kind to avoid any stray animals they find at night. If it is a friendly pet, make sure they know not to feed it candy or hurt it in any way.

For Homeowners:

  • Make sure your porch and pathway is well lit, this will help prevent tripping or confusion as to where little goblins and ghouls should walk.
  • If you won’t be home, leave a note at the door letting trick or treaters know that you are not there and can’t offer them candy.
  • Keep any household pets inside. Even though you may love your dog, it may frighten small children if it starts barking.
  • Use LED bulbs or glow sticks in pumpkins instead of traditional candles to prevent any chances of a fire (glows sticks also have the benefit of looking scarier).
  • Clear your porch and walkway of any obstacles that might cause anyone to fall over.

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For Everyone:

  • Stay vigilant. Halloween is a spooky time, if you see something that looks out of place or a possible safety hazard let someone know so they can fix it or avoid it.
  • Don’t stay out too late. Although Halloween is a night of fun and shenanigans head home a little early, the later you stay out the greater chance something bad could happen.

Have fun!  Remember Halloween is a holiday, try to enjoy it and you might find yourself acting more like a kid than you thought possible.  Eat lots of candy and watch a scary movie or two!

Robert Kovacs
Red Cross Volunteer

Doing it for Mom: A Volunteer’s Journey to the Red Cross

I’ve been asked why we wanted to create a cycling event with the Red Cross throughout the course of our involvement by many friends and family. Until very recently, I thought I had a great story: when I was younger I couldn’t afford a car and when I could they broke down. So I would ride to and from work and school on my bike. This led to longer rides and culminated with a ride across the country as part of a charity event benefiting the American Cancer Society.

I have done numerous rides for various charities over the years and was always a blood donor for the Red Cross. One day my wife and I were talking about how the Red Cross should do such an event. In fact, I became adamant that the one thing all those rides had in common was that they all probably received support from the Red Cross in some form or another. Why not give the Red Cross something back?

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The rest of the story is simple, we told our friend Ken Bauer who is on the local Red Cross Board and he wanted in,. We pitched it to the local CEO and BAM! We are putting together the 1st annual Operation: Ride for the Red bicycle ride to support Service for the Armed Forces, a program built to help local retired and active service personnel and their families. Given the location of a Red Cross office in Camarillo and that the routes going along two of the Ventura bases, it seemed a natural fit.

So what is my new story or explanation as to why we’re doing this? I was sharing our efforts with my Mother, Faye Delson, and she shared with me her involvement with the Red Cross. During World War II when both of her older brothers went oversees she was left to help her single mother raise her two younger sisters and find work where she could.

They happened to live near a Red Cross building and one day she decided she wanted to help but didn’t know how. The solution came from a Red Cross volunteer who offered to teach my mom how to knit. They would provide the materials, only if she would make a Red Cross sweater that would be sent overseas to a serviceman. She did, and has spent a lifetime knitting and later crocheting. I have watched her create many blankets over the years and never knew why she did it.

When she told her story to me I could see in her eyes that she was proud her son was paying back a gift of a lifetime. So now I just say I am doing it for my mom!

The first annual Operation: Ride for the Red event takes place on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Registration is still open – join us today!

Kevin Delson
Red Cross Volunteer

Gratitude

Red Cross thank you cards from Sanger, CA school children

The other day I arrived at the office to find a really nice surprise.  On my desk were about two dozen hand-colored thank you cards from students in Sanger thanking the American Red Cross for all of the life saving work they do throughout the Central Valley and the world. As I read through each card and considered the time that was put into each one, I was really moved by the fact that a group of fifth graders would take the time to thank the Red Cross in such a special way.

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This got me thinking about the importance of gratitude. In an age where everything is fast paced, it is easy to be moving along our day so quickly and forget to practice gratitude.  Our lives are hectic; often jam packed with meetings, conference calls, soccer practices and deadlines. These things can easily derail us from practicing a life of gratitude.

In the last month, our team of staff and volunteers has responded to over three dozen home fires, canvassed neighborhoods to teach preparedness and install smoke alarms through our Home Fire Campaign, taught CPR & first aid courses, supported our nation’s veterans at local stand down events and supported our region at fundraising events and community partner luncheons.  The amazing work of the Red Cross would not be possible if it were not for the continued efforts of our staff and volunteers who are so committed to our mission and to them I express my gratitude.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company presents a donation to the Red Cross for the Prepare Central Valley preparedness programI also want to express gratitude to our partners and donors who make that work possible. The average home fire response has a direct cost to the Red Cross of $2,200. The life-saving work of our volunteers and staff simply would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. It is our partners and donors who, with their generosity stand with those who are affected by tragedy and I am so thankful to them for their support.

It was a wonderful gift that a group of fifth graders gave to me this week. Yes, of course the cards were beautiful and I am so grateful for their words and their creativity. More than that though, they helped me to slow down and remember why I want to live a life full of gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for and it is an unspeakable privilege for me to work with such amazing staff, volunteers and donors here at the Red Cross.

Barry Falke
Executive Director